Overdue tax bills on two properties co-owned by the mayor of Brandon were quickly paid once it came to light they were on the city’s tax arrears list.
As previously reported in the Brandon Sun, the list was posted on the city’s website last week, which included more than 220 property owners that still hadn’t paid the bills from 2012 and 2013.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst and her husband, Dr. Derry Decter, own 841 Rosser Ave. (Rosser Medical Clinic) and 126-10th St. (legally 122-10th St.), which is a dance/martial arts studio.
The Decters’ clinic appeared on a tax arrears list last year as well.
"Here we are again," Decter Hirst said when contacted by the Sun Tuesday.
The list showed the Decters owed $7,814.81 in overdue property taxes for the Rosser Avenue property and $29,770.39 for the 10th Street property.
"Maybe we can just replay the interview from last year," she said with a laugh.
Decter Hirst said she is disappointed to be in this position again.
"Marriages are complicated things, so what I’m going to say is this is a private matter," she said. "However, like any property owner in the city, I’m going to accept all penalties and consequences for late payment of our property taxes because the mayor … is one of 52,000 people who live in the city and is not exempt from the responsibilities, as any other citizen."
A revised tax arrears list was posted Tuesday afternoon. A handful of properties were removed from the list, including the mayor’s two properties. In order to be removed from the list, property owners must at least pay the 2012 portion.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the total amount owed to the city in back taxes from 2012-2013 is $1,462,368.
If the 2012 taxes are not paid by the October deadline, owners risk losing their properties in a public auction. If property owners want to avoid additional fees, they should pay their 2012 taxes by the end of this month.
"We’re giving them until the end of January before we turn this over to TAXervice," said Shelley Tataryn, the city’s accounting manager.
Once TAXervice takes over, property owners still in arrears will be immediately charged a bill of roughly $470.
Tataryn said property owners would have received several notices already notifying them of the tax arrears since 2012.
"In 2013, they would have received their property tax notice, which would have mentioned they had arrears," Tataryn said. "Then in the later part of 2013 … we sent out another arrears notice … We also let them know that if they had 2012 arrears they were in danger of going into tax sale."
Then about a week ago, another courtesy letter was sent out, which lets people know the city is starting their tax sale process.
Currently, the city is owed $657,743 in 2012 taxes. That number does not include tax sale fees or penalties, so Tataryn expects it to increase significantly.
Brandon Chamber of Commerce vice-president Todd Birkhan said via email "as much as it does not appear good to have the mayor and others late (paying) their taxes, the city does charge a per month penalty on taxes that are overdue to compensate for interest incurred until the taxes are paid."
In fact, given the low rate of interest on debt, Birkhan says the city stands to make a profit from the situation.
There are several reoffenders on the tax list, including Shape Foods Inc. The company, which manufactures flax oil, owes the highest amount — just under $282,000 ($147,875 for 2012 and $134,012 for 2013). Shape Foods has been on the arrears list for the past two years.
A defunct truck stop at 721 Middleton Avenue is another recurring property, owing $44,360.10.
The largest property tax bills appearing on the tax arrears list (2012-2013 combined):
1. $281,887.85 — 2001 Victoria Ave. E. (Shape Foods)
2. $53,214.09 — 1712 Rosser Ave. (oil change shop)
3. $44,360.10 — 721 Middleton Ave. (defunct truck stop)
4. $28,776.84 — 863 10th St. (Brandon Squash Club)
5. $24,556.73 — 620 Richmond Ave. E.
6. $24,347.42 — 631 Rosser Ave. (vacant storefront)
7. $18,759.39 — 2340 Rosser Ave. (Clemmensen’s Movies & More)
8. $18,432.49 — 1203 Princess Ave. (Brandon Appliance Repair)
9. $17,364.51 — 935 26th St.
10. $16,158.65 — 910 Van Horne Ave. E.
» Source: City of Brandon